A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

I love mushrooms and would like to use them more. I bought these portobellos because they were beautiful, but with no plan in mind. Viana La Place and Evan Kleiman can usually be counted on to have a good idea for vegetables. This is their recipe from Cucina Fresca.

Grilled Stuffed Mushrooms

Large brown mushrooms or portobellos
Fresh thyme leaves
6-8 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil

Clean mushrooms with a damp towel--don't immerse. Trim off woody stems. Cut slits in the thickest part of the flesh so they will cook evenly. Brush with olive oil.

Mix chopped thyme leaves, garlic, and generous salt in a small bowl. Stuff this mixture into the gills and slits of the mushrooms.

Broil or grill for 5 minutes, more or less, depending on their size, until the mushrooms soften slightly.

October Beans

We stopped last week to buy apples at a big farm stand near Hendersonville, and among all the lovely apples and beets and ornamental squashes and tough, late-season green beans were a few bags of dried, shelled beans marked "dried October shellies." They were available in pods, too, by the handful: half-dried, twisted pods, beautifully mottled with pink and creamy white swirls. The beans, too, were pink and white. I cannot resist beans, so I bought some.

I did some research at home. My cookbooks were little help; the only people writing about these beans (which go by the names October beans, shelly beans and -- get this -- horticultural beans) seem to have ties to Appalachia and heirloom seeds. These beans seem to be grown mostly in parts of the rural, mountainous South and Midwest. They can be eaten fresh or dried. The pods are edible, too -- people chop them up and put them in soups for flavor.

I cooked them very simply, Southern-style: a few hours of soaking, followed by cooking with two slices of chopped up, rendered bacon, a dried red chile, water and a drizzle of honey. They cooked more quickly than older dried beans.

Surprisingly, they taste very much like pinto beans. I expected a more crowder-pea-like, brassy flavor, or maybe something creamier and lighter like an Italian cannellini.

We ate them mostly plain with cornbread and sauteed spinach that night. We had them left over for lunch. And yesterday -- five days later -- I cooked the rest of them with some tomatoes, rosemary, dried red chiles and garlic and such and served them over linguine. I like Italian bean pastas a lot.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chotee Gobi (Brussels Sprouts from Eastern India)

This is one of my favorite ways to fancy up Brussels sprouts.

Chotee Gobi

1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
Olive or vegetable oil

Slice onion and garlic. Fry in 2 tablespoons oil until soft.
Stir in the following spices and fry for two more minutes.

1 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sesame seeds


2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 to 1 cup yogurt
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon honey

Stir to combine and simmer for a few minutes.

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half

Meanwhile, gently boil the sprouts in water to cover until barely tender. Drain and add to the sauce. Cook and stir for about five minutes until flavors blend.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Better Snapper Veracruz

We bought some gorgeous snapper from the Beaufort fish guy who sells up here on Saturdays. He said it was silk snapper. It had a big flavor-enhancing set of ribs in the middle of it, so we got a discount. (We also bought a little half-pound fillet of grouper that Lawson coated in flour and pan-fried for our lunch. I made tartar sauce and bought some nice buns and a tomato. We were very inspired by those flounder sandwiches at Whaley's in Edisto and have been thinking about them ever since, you see.)

I love fish Veracruz-style, but sometimes it seems too -- too cooked, I guess. Too stewed. Not fresh enough. I've always used Aida Gabilondo's recipe or similar variations, which call for pickled jalapenos and browned vegetables and such.

When I found Paul Johnson's recipe yesterday, I was really excited. It's more like a pico de gallo that you dump on the fish and cook all at once. No browning onions or garlic.

Here's my slight variation:

Marinate fish for 30 minutes in salt and juice of 1/2 lime.

Dice and mix:
  • small white onion
  • 1 T garlic
  • 1 pound tomatoes, fresh or canned or both (those Pomi tomatoes always taste less cooked to me. I like them.)
  • several fresh chiles, minced. I used two red Anaheims, a dedo di moca and a Tabasco. Any combo would work. If all you have are super-hot chiles, supplement with some bell pepper.
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 2 T capers
  • 12 or more green olives
  • the other 1/2 lime
  • salt to taste
Toast in a dry pan, crush in mortar and add to mixture:
  • 10-15 coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
Heat oven to 375. Heat pan in oven if it's a stoneware style Dutch oven. Put fish in pan. Dump mixture over fish. cover. Cook for 20-30 minutes, or until slightly steaming and bubbling. Let rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro. Serve over rice.

It was amazing.